Friday, January 9, 2015

Vermont Expands Addiction Treatment, But Can’t Keep Up With Demand
January 8th, 2015/

Vermont has responded to the state’s opiate addiction problem by expanding treatment, but many people are still waiting to receive help, according to NPR.

In January 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State Message wasdevoted to drug addiction. He said the state was suffering from a “full-blown heroin crisis.” Shumlin said he wanted officials to respond to addiction as a chronic disease.

He called on the state to treat heroin addiction with treatment and support, instead of punishment and incarceration. In 2013, almost twice as many people in Vermont died from heroin overdoses as the previous year. The governor said every week, more than $2 million worth of heroin and other opiates are trafficked in Vermont. Almost 80 percent of the state’s inmates are jailed on drug-related charges. He asked for more funding for treatment programs, which he said is more cost-effective than incarceration. He also called for allowing people addicted to heroin to receive treatment as soon as they are arrested.

The Howard Center, which provides addiction treatment in Burlington, Vermont, has a waiting list of almost 300 people, despite more openings this year. The center is one of five regional hubs that provide intensive treatment, including methadone.

Once patients finish treatment at a hub, they continue treatment with doctors and therapists in their communities. While the number of treatment openings at regional hubs has significantly increased, the state has had difficulty getting doctors to provide treatment locally, even though it has offered to pay for nurses and counselors to work alongside them, the article notes. Only about one in five primary care doctors in Vermont treats opiate addiction. Some doctors say they are concerned about the additional work and complex needs of these patients.

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